Field Guide

Land Invertebrates

Showing 1 - 10 of 165 results
Media
Green mantidfly perched on a screen window
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 11 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Mantidflies look like a cross between a lacewing insect and a praying mantis. They are small, delicate creatures with intricately veined wings, but the front half looks like a mantid, complete with raptorial forelegs.
Media
Common meadow katydid female viewed from the side
Species Types
Scientific Name
Orchelimum vulgare
Description
The common meadow katydid is aptly named: it is well-known and widespread in the eastern United States. Listen for its distinctive call — like a pulsating circular lawn sprinkler ratcheting around — in midsummer to the first hard frost.
Media
Fork-tailed bush katydid resting on a tree trunk
Species Types
Scientific Name
Scudderia furcata
Description
The fork-tailed bush katydid reaches about 1¾ inches long. It is usually leafy green and is most common in bushes, thickets, and other shrubby areas. It is most active after dusk. The call is a simple "tsip!" given every few seconds.
Media
Deer bot fly Cephenemyia phobifer resting on a support beam at the top of a fire tower
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 40 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Bot flies are chunky, beelike flies usually with rounded heads. Adults are not commonly seen. The larvae are short, pudgy, segmented grubs that live as parasites in the tissues of animals. Those that live just under the skin often form a bulge. Some types live in the nasal or throat cavities of deer.
Media
Underside of hackberry leaf showing hackberry nipple galls
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pachypsylla spp.
Description
Hackberry psyllids are a genus of tiny, planthopper-like bugs. As larvae, they develop within the leaves, twigs, buds, or bark of hackberry trees. The trees form warty galls in response to their presence. In the fall, tiny adult hackberry psyllids cling to window screens.
Media
eastern stizus wasp on goldenrod
Species Types
Scientific Name
Stizus brevipennis
Description
The eastern stizus is a large, solitary wasp that is often misidentified as the better-known eastern cicada-killer wasp. The markings are slightly different, however, and the eastern stizus female hunts katydids, not cicadas.
Media
True velvet mite walking on a dolomite outcrop at Painted Rock Conservation Area
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 300 species globally
Description
True velvet mites: You’ve probably seen these small, velvety, bright red mites creeping around on rocks, plant containers, tree trunks, or on the ground, especially after a rain. Be not afraid! They are harmless — to people.
Media
Whitebanded fishing spider resting on a mossy tree trunk, legs outstretched
Species Types
Scientific Name
Dolomedes albineus
Description
Whitebanded fishing spiders are often seen on tree trunks, walls, or other vertical surfaces, sometimes far from water. The coloration and markings can vary, but many individuals have an olive-green cast that helps them blend in with mosses and lichens. Note the bristly legs.
Media
Side view of longlegged fly, Condylostylus, perched on a wooden railing
Species Types
Scientific Name
About 1,300 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
The longlegged flies are a large, diverse fly family. They often have eye-catching metallic green, copper, bronze, or blue bodies and long legs. Their delicate wings are often clear and look iridescent in bright light, but many species have dark marks near the wing tips.
Media
Photo of a white micrathena spider in her web
Species Types
Scientific Name
Micrathena mitrata
Description
The white micrathena has 2 short pairs of tubercles and a white abdomen with a few distinct black blotches on the upper side. In an odd way, it looks like it's wearing a turban. This is one of three Missouri species of micrathenas, also called spiny orbweavers.
See Also
Media
Photo of a Yellow-Collared Scape Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Cisseps fulvicollis
Description
The yellow-collared scape moth is more often “orange-collared.” And whether you think it looks more like a firefly or a wasp, it’s still a moth!
Media
image of Plume Moth on blade of grass
Species Types
Scientific Name
Nearly 150 species in North America north of Mexico
Description
Slim, delicate plume moths are instantly recognizable by their T-shaped silhouette, long legs, and muted shades of tan and brown. It can be hard to separate the various species.
Media
Photo of an Isabella Tiger Moth
Species Types
Scientific Name
Pyrrharctia isabella
Description
Not many people know the adult Isabella tiger moth when they see one, but we’re all acquainted with its caterpillar, the woolly worm, or woolly bear.

About Land Invertebrates in Missouri

Invertebrates are animals without backbones, including earthworms, slugs, snails, and arthropods. Arthropods—invertebrates with “jointed legs” — are a group of invertebrates that includes crayfish, shrimp, millipedes, centipedes, mites, spiders, and insects. There may be as many as 10 million species of insects alive on earth today, and they probably constitute more than 90 percent all animal species.